How an online shop quote should be and what it should include

A couple of days ago I received a WhatsApp text:
“Hey, Cova, could you have a look at this quote that I’ve been given to start an online shop?”
I received a PDF document that an agency had created and I was in shock. The quote was way too simple. It only had two lines:

  • Online shop design: €2,600
  • Online shop creation: €2,600

Not a single additional line – or even a comment – just an IBAN number so that they could transfer 50% of the total amount.
Giving an estimate is no easy task, especially if you are just starting out, but even a child could produce something more elaborate and detailed than that.
After talking about how to create a business plan for e-commerce, it is now high time to talk about money.

How much does it cost to start an online shop? What should a professional quote include?

There are two types of people who ask themselves this question:

  1. Designers, installers, and web developers who are launching their businesses and don’t know how to give quotes.
  2. Clients who are looking for an expert who can give them a price estimate to start their shop.

This post will be interesting for both groups. These are the items that you have to include if you are creating a quote for an e-commerce shop and the ones you have to receive information about if you are a client.

Which CMS is going to be used?

Choosing the CMS (Content Management System) is one of the first decisions to be made. The quote should always specify which CMS will be used and why.
Note to designers: it is true that you may be a PrestaShop or WooCommerce specialist, but if you think it would be better for the client to use Magento, the honest thing to do is not to create a WordPress website just because it’s what you do best.
If you are a client looking for estimates and you don’t know which CMS better meets your needs, read this post. Having an approximate idea about the available options will make it easier for you to figure out if they are trying to give you something that doesn’t fit with your needs.
Another way more expensive option is to have a developer tailor-make your shop.
The main advantage of a CMS is that you don’t have to write all the code from scratch (saving lots of time and money), but it’s just not always possible. Before choosing a customized website, make sure that it’s not possible to do it with a CMS.

Consider this: websites are not expensive or cheap just because of their prices.

What you have to clearly understand is that it’s not the price that makes a website expensive or cheap.
If you pay less than €1,000 but the website always has problems, it’s really expensive. However, you can pay 10 times more and still, in the long run, it turns out to be cheap.

Which functionalities are included in the estimate?

Establishing in advance what the website will and won’t do will save you lots of problems if you are a developer.
As clients, we normally want to add options and functionalities once we start seeing the website, without considering whether they were included in the estimate or not.
The work and meetings beforehand will help both sides come to an agreement about what is and is not included in the service. Everything that is added on top of that should be quoted separately.
Add this sentences at the end of the quote to be safe:

“This does not include any functionality that is not included in this quote”.

If you are a client, work hard on preparing the website. Clearly define functionalities and explain them in detail to the programmer.
The most common problem is that the client can’t explain exactly what they want. Many professionals, knowing that they will have to do and undo, include a certain amount of hours for unplanned changes in their estimates.
This way, the client can request alterations to a certain degree. Honesty and mutual trust is a key factor.

1. Number of websites: which to include and which not to

The common pages that an online shop normally has are, at least:

  • Home
  • Who we are
  • Shop
  • Product card
  • Legal texts: Legal Disclaimer, Privacy Policy, Cookies, and Terms and Conditions.

It is also common to include a number of “internal” pages that the client will choose: categories, blog, services, etc.

The estimate has to include the number of pages that will be created.

Again, any additional content will be quoted and charged apart unless they are considered to be included in the aforementioned extra hours.

2. Design and templates: because they’re more than just colors

In the simple, to not call it empty, estimate that my friend received, there was a section dedicated to design. When creating an online shop professionally, it’s common to divide the estimate into design and programming.
When using a CMS with a template, that’s not the case.
The creator should clearly state that the design has to comply with a specific theme or template and that the website is not a white canvas where any idea can be developed.
Many professionals work with visual editors such as Elementor or Thrive Architect. If this is the case, they have to mention it in the estimate.
Programmers will also have to show clients different templates to choose from, and include the frameworks, such as Genesis or GeneratePress, if they are going to use any.
Everything, including the child theme, if applicable, should be detailed and explained in the e-commerce estimate.
Note: no developer will dare to create a non-responsive website, that is to say, a website that wouldn’t adapt to a mobile format. However, as a client, make sure that this is the case.

3. Hosting and domain: who will register your “house” and name

Is purchasing hosting and a domain name included in the estimate? What is the price?
Most clients who ask for an estimate for an online shop have no idea about which steps they have to follow. There are different options for the developer when it comes to this:

  • Managing everything: this is not the most recommended option – many of them end up doing it to make sure clients “don’t mess it up”.
  • Giving advice about which domain and hosting to buy: the person in charge of creating the website recommends a host and a domain and tells the client how to do it, but he doesn’t do it himself.

In any case, this item has to be specified in order to calculate the cost and give a proper quote.

4. Payment methods: how clients are going to pay you

If there is something that has to be detailed – no matter what – it’s which payment gateways your website will use. The estimate should provide information about which payment methods will be included taking into account the clients’ needs.
Is a virtual POS necessary?
Dealing with the bank is the client’s responsibility, but their limitations regarding technical knowledge can be a burden and slow the job down.
If you are the client, keep this min mind when detailing the job with the professional.

5. WPO (Web Performance Optimization): speed before anything else

The estimate should specify which optimization actions will be carried out. For example, if you are a WordPress implementer and you use a paid plugin for caching, you should tell the client so they can assess it and understand the value.
If you are a client, ask if the job includes load time optimization tasks for the shop:

You could even ask for a specific page speed value to avoid surprises in terms of loading your website and offering a bad user experience.

6. Texts: because words sell

Content creation and/or copywriting is one of the most important jobs within an e-commerce and it should be quoted and carried out separately.
If it’s an agency that has taken charge of your shop, you shouldn’t have any problem since they normally have in-house copywriters.
If that’s not the case, and the developer can’t take care of it, they often work with third parties to provide content creation for their clients.

7. SEO: Never forget your “friend” Google

When planning your strategy to attract traffic, which everyone should plan before starting an online shop, organic traffic should have a privileged place.
Not every developer has SEO optimization in mind and sometimes they can make mistakes that end up being nearly insurmountable obstacles.
Among these mistakes we can find:

  • Cannibalizations
  • Duplicate content
  • Lack of headers
  • Non-optimized meta descriptions
  • Very heavy images
  • Non-friendly URLs

A good estimate will include a perfectly detailed section dedicated to SEO. This task is relatively unknown to most people, so it should be explained in a clear and simple way.
Are you interested in getting basic ideas about SEO for e-commerce? Read this post.

8. Web Analytics: the importance of measuring (well)

The end client will need to know what happens on the website: how many people visit it, for how long, and where they come from.
In order to monitor those and other metrics, it is quite common to use Google Analytics. That’s fine, but, will the estimate include setting up Analytics?
The Enhanced Ecommerce option from Google Analytics is great, but it takes some additional effort to get it up and running. The same applies to Google Tag Manager.
Every action related to analytics that will be carried out should be specified in the estimate.

Conclusion: it’s always better to work with an itemized estimate

If my friend had received a detailed and well-explained quote, she wouldn’t have asked me about it. She could have seen for herself exactly what she was going to receive in exchange for what she was paying – along with her rights about the job at hand.
An itemized quote will make it much easier to capture clients.
Allow them to add or delete certain aspects, such as SEO or texts, so they can adapt the estimate to their needs and budget.
So now you know – if you’re going to send a price estimate for a job, don’t leave out a single detail. And if you’re the one asking for it, exercise your right to know what exactly your money is being used for.
No matter what side of the equation you’re on, give the estimate the importance it deserves.